Spark plug wires connect the spark plug to what they’re creating a spark in. Whenever you are changing out your spark plugs, it’s a good idea to check on those spark plug wires to be sure they’re up to date. Spark plug wires are relatively inexpensive, and having a new set just keeps everything in great running shape.
If the wire insulators of the spark plug wires are worn out, then the electricity that is running through it might arc out to other pieces of metal, causing you to get a weak spark or no spark at all.
Things to look for when buying ignition cables:
OEM is not always a better option: Aftermarket spark plug wires are every bit as successful as OEM
Insulation: Look for heavy duty insulation for your ignition cable. You’re checking the outside of the wire to be sure the rubber is in good condition and fully able to insulate the interior wire. Double insulation is best; an ignition cable with a high-strength silicone insulator is a terrific option as it can stand up to the wear and tear that consistently being heated from the engine and getting moisture on it can cause.
Engine specific part: You have to get an ignition cable that is meant to match your engine. Be careful, if you have replaced the engine in your vehicle with something different than the original you may not be able to trust your vehicle’s parts manual to give you the right info. Don’t waste time and money on one that doesn’t work for your car.
Warranty: Check the warranty – most come with a 5-year or a 50,000 mile warranty, or a 1-year unlimited mileage warranty, based on which supplier of auto parts you go with. If you find you need to buy one wire, check to make sure the rest of the wires are not looking worn as well. Might as well replace the bunch if needed.
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This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Buy a Good Quality Ignition Cable (Spark Plug Wires) and was authored by Valerie Johnston.